There’s This Book I’m Reading, episode 9

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Star Wars bookWhile killing time in a bookstore with my sister and brother about three weeks ago, I came across a book with an intriguing title: Star Wars Psychology. (edited by Travis Langley, PhD, 2015.) Upon taking it off the shelf and looking at it, I found that it is a series of short essays by various Star Wars fans who also happen to have knowledge (and, in most cases, advanced degrees) in psychology or related fields. As a side note, I later looked at the contributor bios in the back and was fascinated by just how cool and nerdy most of those people are. One of them, Star Wars fan by the name of Jay Scarlet, is even a librarian like me, except cooler because he has a master’s degree in psychology as well. Anyway, as you have probably guessed, I purchased the book.

I haven’t finished reading it, but I probably will yet this evening or perhaps tomorrow. I recommend it for anyone who has interest in both Star Wars and psychology. It is slightly less academic than I had initially expected, making it a relatively light read, especially given the brevity of most of the essays. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. At the very least, the book is an analysis of the motivations of certain Star Wars characters. Just for fun, here are my comments on a few of the chapters that particularly caught my attention.

The second chapter in the book, written by Jenna Busch and Janina Scarlet, PhD,  is “So You Want to be a Jedi? Learning the Ways of the Force through Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.” I don’t know a lot about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, but I was already aware that it focuses largely on the concept of mindfulness. Mindfulness, which is similar to but not synonymous with meditation, has received a lot of positive attention in the media and mental health world. I have mixed feelings about the very concept, because so many people praise it as a cure to mental illness or a way of solving everyday life problems, neither of which is scientifically feasible. However, I am given to understand that research does show that practicing mindfulness is helpful in reducing stress and handling emotions without shutting them down. Contrary to how some people describe it, mindfulness is not a mystical experience or a secret technique. Busch and Scarlet define it as “paying attention to the present moment on purpose, without judgment or distraction,” which is really the same as what the word means in vernacular usage. The writers of this essay assert that mindfulness is a core aspect of Jedi training. It may sound a little funny, but seeing mindfulness framed as a Jedi-related concept helps me to understand it as a beneficial and legitimate concept.

Another psychological idea that this book clarified a little for me is self-actualization, as described by the famous humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow. It’s a phrase that I’ve heard quite a lot, but I didn’t have a clear sense of what exactly it meant. Apparently, it just has to do with feeling content with who you are and/or where you are in life. In this book, the concept was described using the example of Darth Maul, in chapter four, by Travis Langley and Jenna Busch. (Apparently I like her writing, since I’ve mentioned both the parts she wrote) Darth Maul doesn’t get much screen time, really, and his movie is my least favorite of the six, but he is a pretty cool villain. Busch, Langley, and Sam Witwer (who voices Darth Maul in the animated Clone Wars series) describe Darth Maul as being self-absorbed, but highly insecure, in contrast to being self-actualized. It’s interesting seeing self-actualization described as an antonym for self-absorption. But it makes sense that extreme insecurity is just as self-centered as over-confidence.

Although I find psychology fascinating in general, I don’t often gravitate towards topics relating to gender psychology; however, the aspects of this book that touch upon those topics interested me very much. (Not to mention the fact that this book took a very balanced approach to gender psychology, which I appreciated.) The chapter on “Grief and Masculinity: Anakin the Man” by Billy San Juan, PsyD, describes the emotional journey that led Anakin to the dark side. While no one who has watched Episodes II and III will be unfamiliar with that journey, it’s fascinating and even somewhat eye-opening to observe the way that parallels some people’s real-world experiences. And a later chapter, (“A Distressing Damsel: Leia’s Heroic Journey” by Mara Wood) describes Princess Leia’s character development throughout the original trilogy by drawing from the research and writings of a therapist named Maureen Murdock, whose works I am now interested in reading myself.

There are a number of other particularly interesting parts of this book, such as the short passages on personality traits that come at the end of each of the five parts. But in the interest of relative brevity, I will conclude here. If you want to hear more, read it yourself. (And don’t worry about spoilers; it was written before The Force Awakens came into being.)

A Few Star Wars Fan Theories

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Star Wars 1Warning: spoilers ahead. Now that Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens has been out for nearly a month, I would imagine that the majority of Star Wars fans have seen it, but if you happen to be part of the small minority of people who haven’t yet seen the movie and don’t want to encounter spoilers, turn back now. I have seen it twice and want to discuss some of my favorite fan theories. I perhaps owe the internet an apology for not citing sources, but most of these ideas are actually pretty mainstream and easy to find in multiple places if you pay any attention to fan theories at all. There’s nothing here that’s directly lifted from one specific source.

Is Rey Luke’s daughter?

The biggest question raised by the new Star Wars movie is Rey’s identity. All we know for sure about Rey’s backstory is that she was left on the planet Jakku and is awaiting someone’s return. Maz tells her that she knows that the person she’s waiting for will never return, but that someone else might. The flashback that Rey has when she touches Luke’s lightsaber shows her as a young girl, tearfully protesting as someone leaves. Someone else is holding her by the arm, and a voice that resembles Kylo Ren can be heard. That’s enough information to inspire debate, but not enough to give a definite answer. Rey’s other visions could be flashbacks, but they could be insight about the future or about other people.

The most popular theory seems to be that Rey is Luke Skywalker’s daughter, and after much back and forth, that’s my guess. My main objection to it is actually that it seems too obvious, and I suspect the moviemakers want to spring a surprise on us. But Rey clearly has some kind of connection to Luke’s lightsaber, and the final scene, in which she returns Luke’s lightsaber to him, certainly looks like we’re supposed to view it as a father/daughter moment. The Star Wars franchise is quite fond of dramatic father/son moments, after all.

Star Wars 2 ReyNumerous fans have found hints to support this theory, such as the way Rey’s theme music sounds together with Luke’s, or the fact that she has a fighter helmet with her on Jakku. Then there’s her natural piloting ability, and, of course, the fact that the Force is strong with her, which seems to indicate that at least half of her parentage is Jedi. Considering that she has no Jedi training, it is a surprise that she’s a match for Kylo Ren, who has been trained by both Luke and, presumably, Supreme Leader Snoke, and is consequently well on his way to being a powerful Sith. And her connection with Luke’s lightsaber seems like a dead giveaway. Not to mention the fact that the entire Star Wars movie series is about the Skywalker family, so it only makes sense that the main heroine of the new movie is descended from Luke.

There aren’t many good arguments against it, but I think it still leaves some questions to be answered. For example, who is Rey’s mother? Certain books name Mara Jade as Luke’s wife, and some fans have guessed that the movies are going to go along with that idea, even though Mara Jade doesn’t show up in this movie.  My brother suggested the theory that Rey’s mother is the female Stormtrooper leader who Finn so intensely dislikes, who either turned to the dark side later, or who is acting as an undercover Resistance agent the entire time. I will have to watch the movie a third time in order to determine whether I think that makes sense.

Another question is why Rey doesn’t know she’s Luke’s daughter, and in fact, questions whether Luke and the Jedi are anything more than mythology. In her flashback, she appears old enough to know those kinds of things. So if she is Luke’s daughter, she was evidently separated from him even earlier than that, and it was someone different who left her on Jakku. And that makes me wonder, 1) who was her adoptive/foster family, and 2) why didn’t Luke and her mother raise her themselves?

Is Rey related to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

I thought that this theory was pretty fascinating, and in fact, when I first read it, I was pretty sold on it. The idea was that, while Obi-Wan was on Tatooine for all those years between Episode III and Episode IV, he had a wife and child that we never knew about, and Rey is either is daughter or granddaughter. Some people say that Rey’s father is Luke and her mother is a secret daughter of Obi-Wan. I’ve also seen mentioned the possibility that she is his niece or grand-niece, which I prefer because it doesn’t require Obi-Wan having a wife, which seems unlikely given that he was a hermit and that he never mentioned having family in the original movie. The best argument for this theory that I’ve seen is that Rey’s manner of holding the lightsaber is similar to Obi-Wan’s, although I admit that that’s hardly conclusive, as lightsaber-wielding surely is more influenced by one’s training than by one’s heritage. If Rey fights differently than other Jedi, it’s because she has no formal training, not because of who her father or grandfather is. Probably.

Is Rey Han and Leia’s daughter?

Star Wars 3 Rey and HanThe first time I saw this movie, this was my initial assumption, right up to the moment when Rey met Han Solo and acted as if she’d never met him before and viewed him as a celebrity. Even then, I was trying to piece together some way that it could be possible that she somehow didn’t recognize her own family members. To be honest, the best thing this theory has going for it is that it would be cool, but in my defense, I’m not the only one to have discussed it. Evidently, it does fit nicely with some of the non-canonical Star Wars novels that I haven’t read.

Did Rey have her memory wiped?

This opens up any of the above possibilities for her parentage, and it also opens up the possibility that Rey wasn’t a relative of anyone we’d recognize, but she was one of Luke’s students who survived the attack. Really, you can guess anything you want about Rey’s past if you assume she doesn’t remember anything. But I’m pretty sure Rey does remember who left her on Jakku; after all, she is waiting for someone and she evidently knows who. When Moz tells her that the person she’s waiting for isn’t coming back, but someone else might, that’s a pretty big hint. I just don’t know what that hint is telling us, exactly.

Who is the man in the opening scene?

It seems likely to me that the old man who had the map segment at the beginning of the movie was filling the same role for Rey that Obi-Wan was filling for Luke in the beginning of the original movie. That is, he was posing as a random hermit in order to keep an eye on her from a distance without interacting in her upbringing until she was ready to contribute to the Resistance. That would explain why he would have the map in the first place, especially if Rey is in fact Luke’s daughter. The plan was probably that, once Rey was old enough and skillful enough, he would bring her or send her to Luke, who would then train her as a Jedi. (This idea works even if Luke isn’t her father, as long as he is aware of her existence and the fact that the force is strong with her.) But that doesn’t answer the question of who he is in the first place. The best answer I’ve heard is that he is a rebel pilot from the original trilogy. They aren’t major characters, but they are important to the rebel cause and they are people that Luke would definitely trust.

Who is Finn?

Star Wars FinnAll right, he’s a Stormtrooper who doesn’t have the ruthlessness necessary to carry out the Stormtrooper agenda, I get that. But doesn’t that seem a little odd that there’s exactly one non-conformist Stormtrooper? If that’s even possible for a Stormtrooper to reject his training, wouldn’t it happen at least a few times? Some have wondered whether Finn might be related to Mace Windu from the prequels or Lando Calrissian  from episodes five and six. I don’t think it’s necessary to assume that all black characters in the Star Wars universe have to be linked, but I’m not rejected those possibilities, either. The Lando one seems pretty far-fetched, but the Mace Windu theory would explain why Finn is perfectly capable of wielding a lightsaber, despite having no Jedi training and being (evidently) less strong with the Force than Rey.

Who is Maz Kanata and how did she get Luke’s lightsaber?

Star Wars MazMaybe I missed something, but the only background information I remember getting about Maz is that she’s someone Han Solo knows and that she has connections with the Jedi and the force, even though she isn’t a Jedi herself. J.J. Abrams has been quoted as saying that Maz and Yoda had “at one point crossed paths”, and I had a sense all along that there was something Yoda-like about Maz. But that still leaves a lot of questions unanswered. The biggest one for me is how Maz ended up with Luke’s lightsaber.

Is Supreme Leader Snoke Darth Vader?

Fan theories include the possibility that the Supreme Leader is Darth Plagueis, a Sith Lord who is mentioned but not shown in earlier movies, or the Emperor, who supposedly died at the end of Return of the Jedi. An idea that I find particularly interesting is that he could be Darth Vader. After all, the scars on his head match those of Darth Vader. Of course, Darth Vader was also supposed to have died, and he became a good guy immediately before dying. I’m actually not a fan of any of the three aforementioned theories, but I don’t have a good alternate idea to suggest. I did read one theory that suggested that he’s actually smaller than human size, since we only see him as a hologram. That’s interesting, but it doesn’t tell us who he is. And one thing is relatively sure: Supreme Leader Snoke is going to turn out to be someone we’ve met before.

What’s the deal with Kylo Ren and Han Solo?

Star Wars 5 Kylo RenWe know that Kylo Ren, originally Ben Solo, is the son of Han and Leia. We know that he was in training under Luke, and that he turned from the dark side and slaughtered all of the other students at Luke’s Jedi academy. And we see him trying to live up to Sith standards and drawing inspiration from his grandfather Darth Vader. (Some have criticized the acting and Kylo Ren’s coolness as a bad guy, but I’m fine with it because he’s clearly a wannabe Darth Vader who hasn’t reached that level of Sith-ness yet. He’s more like Anakin in the end of Episode III than Darth Vader in the original trilogy.) But we don’t know how or why he turned to the dark side in the first place, and I personally have a lot of questions about his relationship with Han Solo. It has even been suggested that Kylo Ren started out as a sort of double agent, joining the dark side in the hopes of getting rid of the Supreme Leader, but quickly becoming completely won over. (I will cite this one back to Reddit user vrso3g, since I have that information available to me and it sounds like this one was an original theory.)

My biggest question is what the deal was in the scene where Kylo Ren kills his father. The first time I saw the movie, I assumed that Han Solo made himself vulnerable with the assumption that Kylo Ren wouldn’t hurt him and the hope that he could convince him to turn back to the light side. But upon discussion with my brother and a second viewing of the movie, I now see Han’s actions as self-sacrificial. In fact, maybe the parallel to Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original movie was not just something the moviemakers threw in there; maybe Han Solo himself believed that he was doing for his son (or perhaps Rey and Finn) what Obi-Wan did for Luke.

Who’s alive and who’s dead?

Star Wars 4 PoeWe all know that Kylo Ren survived just because the movie didn’t conclusively eliminate that possibility. I personally think Han Solo is really and truly dead. Really, the only reason I can see to doubt that is because it’s so sad for him to be dead. But the Star Wars franchise has never cared about our feelings before. I love Star Wars, but it’s true. Which brings me to my next point. It was just really weird for Poe Dameron to come back the way he did. It seemed pretty clear that he was dead and pretty unnecessary, in terms of plot, for him to come back. Some fans have suggested the idea that he really is dead, and that the person we think is Poe later is actually a spy disguised as Poe. I’m cool with that theory.

Star Wars droidsThere is, of course, a lot more to be said about all of these theories. This is by no means supposed to be a comprehensive list or a detailed exploration. Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments, especially if they’re new and original. I’d love to hear them!

Star Wars Chronology Compression and related issues

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Star WarsThe biggest difference between people of my generation and people of my parents’ generation is that I was able to watch the original Star Wars trilogy for the first time over the space of a few days, while my parents and their friends had to wait years in between each release. Some people may try to say that values and perspectives change across generations, but, if that is true at all, its significance shrinks in comparison to the effects of Star Wars Chronology Compression.

For people who were there to see the trilogy when it was brand new, there was a significant amount of time during which they didn’t know that Darth Vader was Luke’s father, and an even longer period during which they assumed that there was to be a romantic relationship between Leia and Luke. But for me and my generation, the two major plot twists concerning Skywalker genealogy are taken for granted just as much as the destructive properties of the Death Star and the conflict between the Empire and the rebels. This generational divide is one that greatly overshadows any trivial shifts in pop music, fashion trends, moral convictions, social conventions, or any other factor of human experience. (With the exception of the internet)

Star WarsBut there is just as great a chasm between people of my age and people just a few years younger. You see, I remember a time when there were exactly three Star Wars movies. I remember a time when Jar-Jar Binks did not exist, when Obi-Wan Kenobi could only be pictured as a man with a white beard, and when Anakin Skywalker was only the distant memory of the oldest characters. The prequel trilogy was an addendum that came along later, when the Star Wars saga was already a fundamental part of my existence. Not so for those a few years younger than me. Some of my own siblings are younger than The Phantom Menace and probably don’t make nearly as clear a distinction as I do between the original Star Wars and the newer Star Wars.

Although I was not nearly as disappointed and upset by the prequels as many Star Wars enthusiasts were, I strongly agree that they aren’t nearly as good as the originals. They just aren’t. I feel sympathy and concern for those who view the six movies as a unified saga. While that may seem to be a more tidy and satisfyingly holistic way to view the series, it ignores the plot holes and the differences in storyline quality and special effects. (In my opinion, the over-the-top special effects of relatively recent movies are actually a distraction from the plot.) I think that my tendency to perceive the six movies as two distinct series allows me to better appreciate Star Wars in general, just as classic Doctor Who and the current Doctor Who are not the same TV show.

Now, we are approaching the dawn of a new era of the Star Wars fan experience. As of last October, Star Wars has fallen into the hands of Disney, and fans have been promised an episode 7 in 2015, with an implication of future installments after that. Star Wars lovers have mixed opinions about this. Some are horrified, but others say that the worst has already happened and that the future of Star Wars can only be an improvement on its past. And then there are some who didn’t have a problem with the prequel trilogy and are excited by the prospect of yet more movies, regardless of what organization is in charge of making them. I don’t mean to imply that every Star Wars fan falls into one of these categories; my point is simply that this new Star Wars movie is already receiving mixed reviews, two years before it even exists.

Star WarsMy own opinion falls somewhere in the middle, although it is probably closer to the pessimistic side. I acknowledge the possibility that future Star Wars movies could be good, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they’re terrible. Even if they are better than I expect, it troubles me to know that there will one day be people on this Earth who know Star Wars as an epic series of at least seven episodes, rather than as a series that expanded around one really great movie. They will be misunderstanding their own culture because, no matter how good the rest of the series is, it is the movie now known as Episode IV: A New Hope that revolutionized cinema and science fiction, single-handedly redefined all subsequent pop culture, and has earned a place in history shared by few other works of art.

Before a new Star Wars movie comes into existence, there is something I must say. It is essential that I make this quite clear for the record, in order to protect myself and my love for Star Wars. When future Star Wars movies come out, I am not compelled to accept them or to acknowledge that they count. My opinion of them and their significance are contingent upon how good they are and how well they fit in with the other Star Wars movies. If they meet my Star Wars standards, I will duly love and obsess over them. But if they fail, even slightly, I reserve the right to roll my eyes and deny that they are really Star Wars or that they bear any relation to the preceding movies. Just because Disney has bought Star Wars, I will argue at great length, does not mean that they can make Star Wars movies, for Star Wars is not a product that can be bought and sold. It is a way of life, I will further inform my bored and annoyed listeners, and ways of life do not come with price tags stuck on them. Commercialism cannot contain and define Star Wars, no matter how hard it may try.

So Disney can go ahead and do its worst. No matter what the new movies are like, there is nothing Disney can do to hurt me or to shake my appreciation of Star Wars. I remain secure in my admiration of the original trilogy.

On Sentences That End With Prepositions

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These Aren't the Droids You're Looking ForI just suddenly realized something that disturbed and nearly traumatized me. In the original and coolest Star Wars movie, when Obi Wan Kenobi says, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for,” he ends a sentence with a preposition. At first I wasn’t sure what to think about this. It seemed to me that the world is in a dismal state indeed when even a respected Jedi master ends sentences with prepositions, and when the resulting sentence becomes an iconic quotation throughout all of the coolest areas of pop culture. But then I remembered. Obi Wan Kenobi wasn’t from this world, he was from a galaxy far, far away, and he wouldn’t have been speaking English, either. Of course we all know that Star Wars is more than just a science fiction story- it really happened- but the film version that we have available in our own galaxy was made in 1977 and filmed with English-speaking audiences in mind. Therefore, most of the major characters speak English in the movie, but in real life, they spoke some other language native to their own galaxy. In translation, sentence structure often gets altered, thus resulting in the catastrophic placement of the preposition.

I suppose that I ought to acknowledge at this point that it’s technically not forbidden to end sentences with prepositions in English. John Dryden, a seventeenth-century English poet, insisted that it was incorrect to end a sentence with a preposition, but this was in fact true of Latin, not English. It is worth further noting that at one time, particularly in the Renaissance, it was considered cool to make English sound more like Latin. The fact remains, though, that there are grammatical differences between different languages, and that Latin rules don’t necessarily apply to English. Still, it is generally agreed that ending English sentences with prepositions should be avoided, and I maintain that there is nearly always a better way to state the same sentence.

It would seem that examples are in order.

1. “I can end sentences with prepositions if I want to.”

Here, I think that the sentence would be fine with the preposition omitted, thus resulting in the sentence “I can end sentences with prepositions if I want.”  A couple other possibilities are “If I want to, I can end sentences with prepositions” and “I can end sentences with prepositions if that’s what I want to do.” I would like to point out, though, that there’s a difference between “can” and “may”.

2. “Prepositions are good words for ending sentences with.”

Again, in this particular case, it would work to simply remove the preposition: “Prepositions are good words for ending sentences.” A better way to restate the sentence is to replace to preposition “for” with “with which to” and to change the form of the verb “ending” to “end”. The resulting sentence is “Prepositions are good words with which to end sentences.” Some people might say that it’s more awkward that way, but it really isn’t. It just sounds a little funny to people who are accustomed to ending sentences with prepositions. You should probably be aware that it’s a bad idea to argue that point too much, or else someone might decide to hit you.

3. “Ow! What did you hit me for?”

“What for” questions can be easily changed into “Why” questions.  In this case, the restated version would be, “Ow! Why did you hit me?”

4. “Now my arm is bleeding; where are the Band-Aids at?”

It seems to me that the preposition “at”, when it appears at the end of a question or statement, is generally unnecessary because it’s redundant. In the case of this example, the offending preposition can simply be removed without messing up the sentence at all: “Now my arm is bleeding; where are the Band-Aids?”

5. “She just hit me because I end my sentences with prepositions, and that’s not something she can put up with.”

Here’s another place where the “with which” rule could be used. (“She just hit me because I end my sentences with prepositions, and that’s not something with which she can put up.”) There are a couple of problems with this, though. One is that it sounds like it still ends with a preposition, because “up” is often a preposition. In this case, though, it isn’t, because it’s a particle that’s part of the verb “put up”.  Therefore, that problem doesn’t really count, but the other problem is that this sentence really is pretty awkward. The best way to fix it is to use a different word in place of “put up with”, and the ideal word with which to do this is “tolerate”. Thus, the sentence now reads, “She just hit me because I end my sentences with prepositions, and that’s not something she can tolerate.”

6. “No wonder I couldn’t find the Band-Aids myself; that’s a weird box to keep them in.”

In my personal opinion, the “in which” version of this sentence would sound just fine. (“No wonder I couldn’t find the Band-Aids myself; that’s a weird box in which to keep them.”) I realize, though, that some people might find that to be a bit awkward. It might work better to restate the sentence without the preposition “in”. For example, you could say, “No wonder I couldn’t find the Band-Aids myself; that’s a weird box for them.” I would still go with the first choice.

7. “Because this box has pictures of flesh-eating dinosaurs all over.”

For this kind of sentence, all you need to do is to finish the prepositional phrase. It needs a noun or pronoun to clarify what the phrase “all over” means: “Because this box has pictures of flesh-eating dinosaurs all over it.”

8. “I just put a Band-Aid on.”

Again, all you need to do is add a word to explain what you’re doing with that preposition. You could say, “I just put a Band-Aid on my arm”, or, if you’re feeling a bit melodramatic, “I just put a Band-Aid on my mutilated and bloody arm. Oh, see the blood! Surely this hideous grievance must be avenged!” If the original sentence had referred to an article of clothing, (“I just put a shirt on.”) it would probably sound better to just move the preposition: “I just put on a shirt.”

9. “Now I’m going to hit her arm next time she walks by.”

You could fix this sentence in the same way: “Now I’m going to hit her arm next time she walks by me.” But I have a cheater’s method for sentences like these. Just invert the sentence structure so that the preposition ends up in the middle of the sentence: “Next time she walks by, I’m going to hit her arm.” This doesn’t always work; it’s basically just a way of rearranging a sentence that’s already valid and grammatically correct. I only use it because I hate when sentences end with prepositions. And I have already reluctantly acknowledged that such things are occasionally permissible.

This brings me back to the quotation from Obi Wan Kenobi. This one isn’t so easy to fix. The sentence “You aren’t looking for these droids” doesn’t really work; it slightly changes the meaning by making “you” the subject of the sentence. Obi Wan Kenobi could have said, “These aren’t the droids for which you’re looking”, but that’s somewhat less quotable. The best alternative I can offer is “These aren’t the droids you’re seeking”, but that sounds a little unnatural. I’m going to have to concede that the original sentence, which ends with a preposition, is the best one.

But only because Obi Wan Kenobi is a Jedi master from another galaxy.

Note: No arms were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

May the 4th be with you!

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In this blog, I intend to write a post for every major holiday. Today, as I hope everyone knows, is an extremely important holiday. Sadly, since I’m currently in the crazy part of the semester right before finals, I don’t actually have time to watch Star Wars today, which is not cool. I might try to make time to watch the first hour or so of A New Hope tonight, but I’m not counting on being able to do that. Anyway, in celebration of this occasion, I will now list my criteria for awesomeness in a movie, thereby demonstrating that the Star Wars movies are the ultimate awesome movies.

1. Plot

In my opinion, the plot isn’t as important to the overall awesomeness of a movie as it is for a book, mainly because the fourth and fifth elements on this list don’t apply at all to books. Still, for a movie to be really great, the plot has to be interesting. Since the definition of interesting is relative, I’m not going to try to define it in specific terms, but I think that it’s pretty safe to assert that Star Wars is interesting.

2. Characters

Ideally, the viewer should like, dislike, or be somewhat afraid of most of the major characters. Even if you can’t stand Jar-Jar Binks, you have to admit that he’s a very memorable and distinctive character, as are Yoda, Chewbacca, C3PO, R2D2, Jabba the Hut, and pretty much everyone in all six movies. And Darth Vader, of course, is the ultimate movie antagonist. It just isn’t possible to find an awesomer bad guy than Darth Vader.

3. Quotable lines

Really good movies always have at least a few really good quotes. Sometimes they’re funny (“Why you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder!”), sometimes they’re dramatic (“If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine”), sometimes they’re somewhat inspirational (“Do or do not do, there is no try”), and sometimes they just make really good catchphrases (“May the force be with you”).

4. A really cool soundtrack

While it isn’t necessarily the first thing that I think of when I think about a movie, the soundtrack is definitely important. If anyone actually thinks that Star Wars doesn’t have an excellent soundtrack, they need to have either their head or their ears examined.

5. Special effects

Seriously, Star Wars pretty much invented modern special effects. Yes, I am aware that the special effects in the original trilogy aren’t so impressive by our jaded 21st century standards. Real life also isn’t so impressive by our jaded 21st century standards. I don’t think we actually need to be judging movies by contemporary standards. Exploding spaceships are pretty awesome, even if they don’t look quite like what an exploding spaceship ought to look like.

Actually, all of that pretty much goes without saying. Everyone who’s cool already knows how awesome Star Wars is. Have a happy Star Wars day!